Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Prince Reigns-One game Too Late

'The Prince' - Henrik Lundqvist shuts-out PanthersAnd the peasants cheered and cheered and cheered. Their Prince was back in the game. And the Prince responded. He seemed determined. Determined to please his faithful fans. Determined to help his teammates and determined to prove once and for all to his skittish and rambling coach that he is the number one goalie, that he is in essence, The Man. He should be playing in the big games. He should have been in the nets against the Flyers, against the Senators. Renney uttered some nonsense about having to prove that the Rangers could win the Eastern Conference. Tom, you gave away two points against the Flyers. You can't get that game back. You win by going with your best, not with your gut. And you should have to explain why one day after stating, "I will go with the hot goalie", you go with the not so hot goalie.

The Rangers, as a whole, came back to their roots. The formula worked. Jaromir Jagr scored two goals. Petr Prucha continued his magical ride with his 20th goal of the season. The penalty killers where perfect 5-5, and what more can be said about The Prince that hasn't been said by every one in hockey except his coach who babbles in riddles.

The bottom line is that Henrik Lundqvist is the number one goalie on the Rangers and should play in all the big games. In save percentages Lundqvist's .929 is third behind Fernandez's .932 and Hasek's .930. His GAA of 2.06 is fourth behind Fernandez's 1.98, Hasek's 2.04 and Manny Legace's 2.04. How is that for a close race? Imagine a goalie with a record like that sitting out big games against Ottawa and Philadelphia? Lundqvist made 38 saves against the Panthers in recording his second shutout, both against the Panthers. Weekes stopped 19 of 23 shots against the Flyers.

The Rangers defensemen in front of Lundqvist were sloppy. Malik was horribly undressed on one play and Michal Rozsival's overall carelessness with the puck was reason enough for him to be sitting out for a while. Lundqvist turned aside Rostislav Olesz on a short handed breakaway and then stopped both Nathan Horton and Joe Nieuwendyk on his doorstep after Ranger giveaways. And the peasants cheered and roared his name. Hen-Rik! Hen-Rik! Hen-Rik! The number one goaltender on the team in everyone's mind but the babbling coach.

ICINGS: Ville Niemenen played his finest game of the year. It was an Esa Tikkanen type of game. He was annoying, bothered the goalie and scored a goal. He seems to have gotten the message even though he took a lazy hooking penalty in the first period. Blair Betts tore his MCL early in the first period and will be out for a while. Tough loss for the penalty kill and for faceoffs where he is the only Ranger over 50% on faceoffs. Also a fierce checker and part of the Kamikaze Kids. He will be missed.

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